12-6-10: Unemployment Benefits on the Chopping Block

December 6, 2010 at 8:03 am Leave a comment

The U.S. Labor Department announced some dispiriting numbers on Friday. The unemployment rate is now at 9.8 percent, up from 9.6 in October. There were 39,000 new jobs, many fewer than are needed for a recovery.

Here in Maryland, the unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in October; over 220,000 Marylanders are looking for jobs and not finding them. (November numbers will be released December 17.)

The Obama administration is pushing Congress to renew the federal unemployment benefit extension, but Republicans do not want to enact any new spending that isn’t offset elsewhere in the budget. There’s talk inside the Beltway of a deal that would tie this legislation to tax cut legislation, in which Democrats would accept a two-year across the board extension of the Bush tax cuts, including for the very wealthy, and Republicans would accept a year-long extension of unemployment benefits.

A report from the Obama administration’s Council of Economic Advisers claims that failing to renew the extension will hurt the economy. They released a report that says 600,000 jobs would be lost—close to 6,000 here in Maryland—and 65,000 unemployed Marylanders would lose benefits by next year.

Two million Americans are watching to see if Congress will extend benefits. What would it mean for the country—and for Maryland—if Congress does not? To grapple with that question, Sheilah talks with Jason Perkins-Cohen, executive director of Baltimore’s Job Opportunities Task Force, which advocates for low-income, low-skill workers; and with Christopher Summers, president of the Maryland Public Policy Institute, which promotes free-market, limited government policies.

Entry filed under: On Air, Policy, Politics, Safety Net. Tags: , , , .

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